Local Public Agencies (LPA)
Responsibilities & Objectives
The goal of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is for all people affected by eminent domain be treated fairly and equally, whether the project involving them is headed by a state agency, a county or city agency, or any other type of agency having the power of eminent domain.
The Local Public Agency (LPA)/Right of Way (ROW) Coordinator’s office is a link between FHWA, the LPAs, the public, and the other Department of Transportation offices monitoring the project construction and funding, to see that those rules of fairness are followed.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does the property being acquired need to be appraised?
Unless the property owner wishes to donate the needed right of way, the property must be appraised. Depending on the estimated value, this can be accomplished thru a “Waiver Valuation”, a “Short Form Appraisal”, or a “Before and After Appraisal.”
How does the LPA find a competent appraiser if no one within is qualified?
Generally, most agency employees with knowledge of land values in the area can do a Waiver Valuation with a value under $10,000. However, if no one feels competent, or if the value is expected to exceed $10,000, then an appraiser must be chosen and hired from NDOT’s Approved Appraiser List.
Can the property owner still use the land acquired by Permanent Easement?
Yes. However, the LPA acquiring the Permanent Easement has the right to enter onto that land anytime it needs, in order to accomplish the work set forth in the easement contract. If damages to the property, or to items placed in the area, occur as a result of that entrance, the property owner has no legal right to recover damages.
What happens if the property owner and the LPA can’t agree on a price to pay?
If the property owner doesn’t want to sell or if an agreement cannot be reached, the eminent domain law must be used. The LPA prepares all of the applications and other documents necessary to institute formal condemnation proceedings. They are filed with the office of the county judge in the county in which the land is located.
The prospects of a condemnation should in no way cause fears or apprehension. The eminent domain laws provide a means of settlement of honest disagreement and protects you as well as the LPA.
Just Compensation: Just compensation has been defined by the Right of Way Committee of the American Association of Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as the full and fair equivalent for the loss sustained by the owner as a result of taking or damaging of private property for highway purposes. In an opinion of the Nebraska Supreme Court it is..."that amount of money or its equivalent which will compensate the owner; so that he is in the same financial position as he was before his property was taken or damaged for a public purpose. This is the amount of money which will make the owner no richer or no poorer than he was before the taking or damaging of his property."
Easement: A property right transferred to another to use or control the property for a designated purpose. Some examples are for drainage, to provide access across the property, for maintenance of an area, or to park equipment upon.
- A permanent easement continues indefinitely unless revoked, is recorded, and passes with transfer of the property.
- A temporary easement is for a specific time period, usually one year, or until the project is complete.
Call Report: This is simply a written report, kept by the LPA negotiator, of the key elements discussed during a meeting or phone call with a property owner or representative. It will be a permanent part of the tract file.
Administrative Settlement: This is an increase in payment to the property owner, simply as a means to conclude negotiations on a tract of land. It is purely at the discretion of the LPA head and need not be based on a specific element of the property valuation. However, it must be in the best interest of the LPA and the public and must be accompanied by a written report to NDOT.
Condemnation: Also known as the Eminent Domain Procedure, was established as a way to protect both the LPA and the property owner in a dispute. It allows the LPA to continue on with their project while protecting the property owner in receiving fair compensation. It should be viewed as a very positive protection, rather than as a negative threat.